The fireworks show had ended, but traffic over the bridge toward home had come to a full stop. So my friend and I turned in the other direction, toward the beach.
I worked at Patrick Air Force Base, and there were plenty of Air Force guys around, but they didn’t make much money in those days, so the guys were usually broke. Some of the men who worked in the same office building hit on me, but most of them were married, and I absolutely refused to date a married man. An old boyfriend proposed and I turned him down. He was a sweet guy, but I didn’t love him, and his family made me uncomfortable. The engineers who worked downrange were so love-starved, it was like dating an octopus, and I wasn’t that kind of girl. I was so discouraged, I’d just about given up on men altogether that Fourth of July when I saw the pretty blue convertible.
These guys in the blue convertible were looking pretty good, so I pulled in beside them and my friend and I ordered something to drink. My friend complained about the song on the jukebox, and one of the guys in the blue convertible walked up and selected another song. Baby Elephant Walk. It was a popular song that year.
The two guys in the blue car struck up a conversation. They slid into the backseat of my Corvair and we talked for over an hour. They said they were in the Navy, stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, and they served on the Polaris submarines.
The guy who drove the car invited me to go to the movies with him the next evening, and I accepted. He seemed really nice, and I figured anyone who owned a car like had to have something going for him. He was good looking and had the sexiest brown eyes.
Two weeks later he sold the car, but by then I was already smitten. We only dated three and a half weeks when he proposed. I said yes, then had second thoughts. He was Jewish and except for one boy in my high school class and some merchants in Miami Beach, I’d never known anyone who was Jewish.
I went to the library and tried to find books on the Jewish religion and traditions, but this was Central Florida. In the early 60’s. The schools were still segregated. I couldn’t find any books to tell me what I’d be getting myself into if I married a Jewish guy. No surprise there. If you weren’t a white Christian, you didn’t fit in.
I didn’t know if his family would accept me. Would they expect me to raise our children Jewish? I had no idea. He said it didn’t matter, he loved me and wanted to marry me, and I could raise our kids however I wanted. So we set the date.
We only knew each other six months when we married in January, 1963.
If I hadn’t pulled into the drive-in, we wouldn’t have met. And if he hadn’t been driving that pretty blue convertible, I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention. Now, instead of driving a pretty blue convertible, he drives me crazy. But after 48 years, we’re still married. I don’t know what I’d do without him.
That’s my Fourth of July story. What’s yours?
Sue Fineman is a grumpy old woman who lives in Central Washington State with her grumpy husband of 48 years. They have three over-achieving grown children, two cute little doggies, one adorable grandson, and multiple grandkittens and grandpuppies.